The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe/Volume 3/History of the Bohemians (continuation 2)

Now to return to the story: when the first thirty-nine articles, which I have before rehearsed, were all read over, together with their testimonies, the cardinal of Cambray calling unto John Huss, said:—

The words of the cardinal of Cambray, unto John Huss after his accusation.'Thou hast heard what grievous and horrible crimes are laid against thee, and what a number of them there are; and now it is thy part to devise with thyself what thou wilt do. Two ways are proponed and set before thee by the council, whereof the one of them thou must, of force and necessity, enter into. First, That thou do humbly and meekly submit thyself unto the judgment and sentence of the council, that whatsoever shall be there determined, by their common voice and judgment, thou wilt patiently bear, and suffer the same. Which thing if thou wilt do, we, of our part, both for the honour of the most gentle emperor here present, and also for the honour of his brother, the king of Bohemia, and for thy own safeguard and preservation, will treat and handle thee with as great humanity, love, and gentleness, as we may. A double inconvenience for John Huss to fall into.But if as yet thou art determined to defend any of those articles which we have propounded unto thee, and dost desire or require to be further heard thereupon, we will not deny thee power and license thereunto: but this thou shalt well understand, that here are such manner of men, so clear in understanding and knowledge, and having such firm and strong reasons and arguments against thy articles, that I fear it will be to thy great hurt, detriment and peril, if thou shouldest any longer will or desire to defend the same. This do I speak and say unto thee, to counsel and admonish thee, and not as in manner of a judge.'

This oration of the cardinal many others prosecuting, every man for himself did exhort and persuade John Huss to the like; unto whom, with a lowly countenance, he answered:

'Most reverend fathers! I have often said, that I came hither of mine own free will, not to the intent obstinately to defend any thing, but that if in any thing I should seem to have conceived a perverse or evil opinion, I would meekly and patiently be content to be reformed and taught. Whereupon I desire that I may have yet further liberty to declare my mind; whereof, except I shall allege most firm and strong reasons, I will willingly submit myself, as you require, unto your information.'

Then there started up one, who, with a loud voice said, "Behold, how craftily this man speaketh: He termeth it information, and not correction or determination." "Verily," said John Huss, "even as you will term it, information, correction or determination: for I take God to my witness, that I speak nothing but with my heart and mind."

The cardinal of Cambray appointeth John Huss certain conditions whereby he may be delivered.Then said the cardinal of Cambray: "Forasmuch, then, as thou dost submit thyself unto the information and grace of this council, this is decreed by almost threescore doctors, whereof some of them are now departed hence, in whose room and place the Parisians have succeeded; and also it is approved by the whole council, not one man speaking the contrary thereunto: First of all, that thou shalt humbly and meekly confess thyself to have erred in these articles which are alleged and brought against thee. Moreover, that thou shalt promise by an oath, that from henceforth thou shalt not teach, hold, or maintain, any of these articles. And, last of all, that thou shalt openly recant all these articles.

Upon which sentence, when many others had spoken their minds, at length John Huss said:

'I once again do say, that I am ready to submit myself to the information of the council; but this I most humbly require and desire you all, even for His sake, who is the God of us all, that I be not compelled or forced to do the thing which my conscience doth repugn or strive against, or which I cannot do without danger of eternal damnation: that is, that I should make revocation, by oath, to all the articles which are alleged against me. For I remember, that I have read in the Book of Universalities, that to abjure, is to renounce an error which a man hath before holden. And forasmuch as many of these articles are said to be mine, which were never in my mind or thought to hold or teach, how should I then renounce them by an oath? But as touching those articles which are mine indeed, if there be any man who can teach me contrariwise unto them, I will willingly perform that which you desire.'

The emperor exhorteth John Huss to recant.Then said the emperor: "Why mayest not thou without danger also renounce all those articles which thou sayest are falsely alleged against thee by the witnesses? For I verily would nothing at all doubt to abjure all errors, neither doth it follow that therefore, by and by, I have professed any error." To whom John Huss answered: Most noble emperor! this word to abjure, doth signify much otherwise than your majesty doth here use it." Then said the cardinal of Florence, "John Huss, you shall have a form of abjuration, which shall be gentle, and tolerable enough, written and delivered unto you, and then you will easily and soon determine with yourself, whether you will do it or no." The emperor rehearseth the cardinal of Cambray's words.Then the emperor, repeating again the words of the cardinal of Cambray, said; "Thou hast heard that there are two ways laid before thee: First, that thou shouldest openly renounce those thy errors which are now condemned, and subscribe unto the judgment of the council, whereby thou shouldest try and find their grace and favour. But if thou proceed to defend thy opinions, the council shall have sufficient, whereby, according to their laws and ordinances, they may decree and determine upon thee." To whom John Huss answered; "I refuse nothing, most noble emperor! whatsoever the council shall decree or determine upon me. Only this one thing I except, that I do not offend God and my conscience, or say that I professed those errors which it was never in my mind or thought to profess. But I desire you all, if it may be possible, that you will grant me further liberty to declare my mind and opinion, that I may answer as much as shall suffice, as touching those things which are objected against me, and specially concerning ecclesiastical offices, and the state of the ministry."

The force of false witness. The emperor to John Huss.But when other men began to speak, the emperor himself began to sing the same song which he had sung before. "Thou art of lawful age," said the emperor; "thou mightest easily have understood what I said unto thee yesterday, and this day; for we are forced to give credit unto these witnesses who are worthy of credit, forasmuch as the Scripture saith, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses all truth is tried: how much more then, by so many witnesses of such worthy men? Wherefore, if thou be wise, receive penance at the hands of the council with a contrite heart, and renounce thy manifest errors, and promise by an oath, that from henceforth thou wilt never more teach or preach them; which if thou refuse to do, there are laws and ordinances whereby thou shalt be judged of the council."

An old bishop of Poland.Here a certain very old bishop of Poland put to his verdict. He said: "The laws are evident as touching heretics, with what punishment they ought to be punished." But John Huss constantly answered as before, insomuch that they said he was obstinate and stubborn.Objection of a priest better fed than taught.Then a certain well-fed priest, and gaily apparelled, cried out unto the presidents of the council, saying: "He ought by no means to be than admitted to recantation, for he hath written unto his friends, that although he do swear with his tongue, yet he will keep his mind unsworn, without oath; wherefore he is not to be trusted." Unto this slander John Huss answered as is said in the last article; affirming that he was not guilty of any error.

Paletz against John Huss.Then said Paletz: "To what end is this protestation, forasmuch as thou sayest that thou wilt defend no error, neither yet Wickliff, and yet dost defend him?" When he had spoken these words, he brought forth for witness nine articles of John Wickliff's, and read them openly, and afterwards he said, "When I and Master Stanislaus, in the presence of Ernest of Austria, duke of Prague, preached against them, he obstinately defended the same, not only by his sermons, but also by his books which he set forth; A new heap of slanders.which, except you do here exhibit, we will cause them to be exhibited." So said the emperor also. Unto whom John Huss answered: "I am very well contented that not only those, but also all other my books, be brought forth and showed."

In the mean time there was exhibited unto the council a certain article, wherein John Huss was accused, that he had slanderously interpreted a certain sentence of the pope's, which he denied that he did, saying, that he never saw it but in prison, when the article was showed him by the commissioners. And when he was demanded who was the author thereof; he answered, that he knew not, but that he heard say that Master Jessenitz was the author thereof.

"What then," said they, "do you think or judge of the interpretation thereof?" Then answered John Huss, "What should I say thereunto, when I said I never saw it, but as I have heard it of you." John Huss waxeth faint and weary.Thus they were all so grievous and troublesome unto him that he waxed faint and weary, for he had passed all the night before without sleep, through the pain of his teeth.

Then was there another article read, in which was contained, that three men were beheaded at Prague, because, through Wickliff's doctrine and teaching, they were contumelious and slanderous against the pope's letters; Another quarrel against John Huss touching these three men beheaded at Prague.and that they were, by the same Huss, with the whole pomp of the scholars, and with a public convocation or congregation, carried out to be buried, and by a public sermon placed among the number of saints. And the same Dr. Naso, of whom you have heard certain testimonies already recited, affirmed the same to be true, and against that he himself was present, when the king of Bohemia commanded those blasphemers so to be punished.

Then said John Huss: "Both those parts are false, that the king did command any such punishment to be done, and that the corpses were by me conveyed with any such pomp unto their sepulture or burial: wherefore you do injury both unto me and the king. John Huss belied.Then John Paletz confirmed the affirmation of Dr. Naso, his fellow, with this argument (for they both laboured to one end and purpose): That it was provided by the king's commandment, that no man should once speak against the pope's bulls; and these three spake against the pope's bulls: ergo, by virtue of the king's commandment, they were beheaded.[1] And what John Huss's opinion and mind was, as touching these men, it is evident enough by his book entitled, 'Of the Church,' wherein he writeth thus: "I believe they have read Daniel the prophet, where it is said, 'And they shall perish with sword and fire, and with captivity, and many shall fraudulently and craftily associate themselves unto them.'" And afterwards he saith; "How is this fulfilled in these two lay-men, who not consenting, but speaking against the feigned lies of Antichrist, have offered their lives there-for, and many others were ready to do the same, and many were fraudulently associated unto them, who, being feared by the threatenings of Antichrist, are fled, and have turned their backs," &c.

When these things were read, one looking upon another, as though they had been all in a marvellous strange study, they held their peace for a certain space; for this Paletz, and the aforesaid Dr. Naso had also added, that John Huss, in an open sermon, had inflamed and stirred up the people against the magistrates, insomuch that a great number of the citizens did openly set themselves against the magistrates; and by that means was it, he said, that those three were ready to suffer death for the truth. And this sedition was hardly appeased by any benefit or help that the king could do. Another quarrel picked by Englishmen against John Huss.

The testimonial of Oxford for Wickliff, brought to Prague.
Then the Englishmen exhibited the copy of a certain epistle, which they said was falsely conveyed unto Prague, under the title of the University of Oxford, and that John Huss did read the same out of the pulpit unto the people, that he might commend and praise John Wickliff to the citizens of Prague. When they had read the same before the council, the Englishmen demanded of John Huss, whether he had read the same openly or no. Which when he had confessed, because it was brought thither by two scholars under the seal of the university, they also inquired of him, what scholars they were. He answered; "This my friend (meaning Stephen Paletz) knoweth one of them as well as I; the other, I know not what he was."

Then they first inquired of John Huss, as touching the last man, where he was. John Huss answered: "I heard say, that on his return into England he died by the way." As touching the first, Paletz said, that he was a Bohemian and no Englishman, A piece of the stone of Wickliff's sepulchre brought for a relic to Prague.and that he brought out of England a certain small piece of the stone of Wickliffs sepulchre, which they that are the followers of his doctrine at this present, do reverence and worship as a thing most holy. Hereby of it appeareth for what intent all these things were done, and that John Huss was the author of them all.

Then the Englishmen exhibited another epistle, contrary to the first, under the seal of the university, the effect and argument whereof was this: "The senate of the university, not without great sorrow and grief, have experimented and found, that the errors of Wickliff are scattered and spread out of that university throughout all England. And to the intent, that through their help and labour, means may be found to remedy this mischief, they have appointed for that purpose twelve doctors, men of singular learning, and other masters, who should sit in judgment upon the books of Wickliff. These men have noted out above the number of two hundred articles, which the whole university have judged worthy to be burnt; but, for reverence of the said sacred council, the said university have sent them unto Constance, referring and remitting the whole authority of the judgment unto this council."

The oath of Paletz.Here was great silence kept for awhile. Then Paletz rising up, as though he had now finished his accusation, said: "I take God to my witness before the emperor's majesty here present, and the most reverend fathers, cardinals and bishops, that in this accusation of John Huss, I have not used any hatred or evil will; but that I might satisfy the oath which I took when I was made doctor, that I would be a most cruel and sharp enemy of all manner of errors, for the profit and commodity of the holy catholic church." The oath of Michael de Causis.
John Huss witnesseth the Lord.
Michael de Causis did also the like. "And I," said John Huss, "do commit all these things unto the heavenly Judge, who shall justly judge the cause or quarrel of both parties." Then said the cardinal of Cambray: "I cannot a little commend and praise the humanity and gentleness of Master Paletz, which he hath used in drawing out the articles against Master John Huss; for, as we have heard, there are many things contained in his book much worse and detestable."

When he had spoken these words, the bishop of Reggio, unto whom John Huss was committed, commanded, that the said John Huss should be carried again safely to prison. John de Clum doth comfort John Huss.Then John de Clum following him, did not a little encourage and comfort him. No tongue can express what courage and stomach he received by the short talk which he had with him, when, in so great a broil and grievous hatred, he saw himself in a manner forsaken of all men. After that John Huss was carried away, the emperor began to exhort the presidents of the council in this manner following:

  1. Ex puris affirmativis non consist it argum, in 2 figura.